China, Russia should join hands for a Eurasian economic community

By Zhang Jingwei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 29, 2016
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Two days ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprecedented state visit to China on June 25, 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the significance of the two countries' further strategic cooperation when meeting with Putin in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of "the Sino-Russia Treaty of Friendship" and the 20th anniversary of the Sino-Russia Strategic Partnership of Cooperation.

The relationship between China and Russia can be considered one of the best models among the major countries in the world. As two important members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), they have worked closely while fighting against three vicious forces, namely, terrorism, secessionism and extremism, and have almost completely solved their historical disputes.

Aside from that, the two countries have both faced the challenges derived from geopolitics. Russia, a country that spans Eurasia, has seen the incessant expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which keeps heading into its territory; also, the hotspots of Ukraine and Syria have made Russia susceptible to immense criticism from the Western world. Meanwhile, China has also been prone to the grim sea territorial disputes as a result of the "Rebalancing" strategy launched by the United States, instigating China's neighboring countries to constantly challenge their neighbor's sovereign rights over the isles and reefs in the East and South China Seas.

The United States, in name of navigation protection, has deployed time and again aircraft carriers and fleets around the isles and reefs within China's territory, imposing the challenge that has therefore complicated the situations of the two countries in the Asia Pacific Region.

The relationship between China and Russia, which is built on bilateral cooperation with the respect of mutual interests, has been different from the alliances that the United States has sought in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific Region.

Sino-Russian relations are centered on the word "partnership" and can better elaborate the win-win strategies between the two countries, if not among the entire world, as China is willing to become partners with every country in the world. That may explain the reason why the two countries have never lost their independence in support of each other in the international community.

Economic cooperation between China and Russia, in addition to the traditional political ties which were considered superior to any other forms of relations, is also expected to garner great momentum in the post-global economic crisis era.

On the one hand, the "Belt and Road" (B&R) initiative proposed by China focuses on exporting productive capacities and investments to the countries along the strategic routes to ameliorate their infrastructure and amenities and upgrade their industries. On the other hand, Russia has made a strategic plan called "the Eurasia Economic Union" to echo the B&R initiative. In addition, the "Union" also involves Russia's development in the Far East, where China's capital and labor force can play a significant role in Russia's exploration.

However, the strategic plans of the two countries remain parallel which means that they have not yet formed a joint force. It would be a great achievement if the two countries choose to cooperate in economic and trading sectors. With the falling of energy prices which resulted in diminishing fiscal revenues, devalued currencies and uncontrollable financial risks, Russia and the middle Asian countries are in need of China's capital support as well as the exports of industrial capacity to help them upgrade their industries, and, more importantly, the improvement of infrastructure.

It cannot be ruled out that the two countries may carry out comprehensive cooperation considering the funds of the BRICS Group or Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) during their strategic partnership.

The recent state visit of Russian President Putin brought in more than 30 deals concerning the finance, tourism, nuclear energy and trade sectors.

The docking of the two major economies in the world will probably be conducive to breeding a win-win situation between them, which can also be instrumental to the countries in Eurasia by deepening economic cooperation.

The regional free trade also will offer a promising prospect corresponding to the tendency of globalization, which will benefit China, Russia and the rest of the countries in the region.

Although Russia and the countries in middle and western Asia currently may not be in need of free trade zones because of their less diversified industrial structure, falling energy prices and global economic uncertainty will eventually force them to transform their growth model from focusing on energy exports to manufacturing.

In view of this, the B&R initiative and "the Union", sharing the same goals, can render strategic support for regional free trade cooperation. Economic and cultural exchanges in the region will better balance the regional economies and work out the conundrum caused by the clash of civilizations among peoples from different races holding different religious beliefs.

As the two major countries in the region, China and Russia should contribute to building a shared community across Eurasia.

The author is a researcher from the Charhar Institute.

The article was first published in Chinese and translated by Wu Jin.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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